29 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #44

#44: Over Troubled Water

Wade in the water, wade in the water, children
Wade in the water, God's gonna trouble the water

We toiled in the fields
Now we toil to pay bills
Running so fast we don't even realize we started
A mile behind

Everyday collectors calling
Waiting with raised whips
To slice into that last dollar

Do I eat, or accept defeat?
Cause it seems like lately the choice is between
The two
The two dollars that I have in my wallet
And the growl in my stomach.

Teetering on the edge of overdraft
These discounts aren't even low enough
For the little I have

In over my head
The water's rising
Breathing gets harder
But they still won't give me benefits
The betterment of my life
Is my responsibility

But I feel like a thin bridge
Over raging waters
And the cage is getting tighter
While I begin to drown

28 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #43

#43: Mood: Contemplative

Clearly this was one of those "in my head" days. Not so much becaue I was at work but I did start to think: when did we stop teaching kids to think? When did we stop teaching them the basic modicums of respect and decency?

I've been blaming the kids but lately, I've got to go to the adults. For example, lately when I go out to monitor recess, there are chip packets and wrappers all over the playground. That's the fault of their teachers. A 5th grader, maybe it's on them but a kindergartener? That's a teacher.

And I think about some of the things I've let slide. Because I was tired or just didn't feel like dealing. Is it really the kids or are we just using them as an excuse for our own laziness?

Last week when I was waiting for the bus, I saw a girl getting jumped. I didn't do as much as I should have. I'll admit I was a bit afraid. There were about twenty crazed teens egging the fight on. But ultimately, I let it go. I knew someone else would handle it. And I'd already yelled at 2 kids that day and dealt with another one's attitude. And I felt a cold coming on. And I just wanted to get home and lay down.

But ultimately, those are all excuses. Can I call myself a teacher, if when the time is most important, I don't teach?

27 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #42

#42: Too Much

Sundays are jam-packed with television on a variety of networks. There's FOX's Animation Domination, which returned tonight with The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. Then there's CBS which returned with The Amazing Race and Cold Case and ABC's Brothers & Sisters started it's third season tonight. Finally, two of Showtime's best, Dexter and Californication started all new season's as well. Let's just be honest. That's a lot of television.

I managed to make it through all the highlighted shows but at the end of that whirlwind marathon of television (I'm not even counting the shows that didn't have season premieres tonight), there's only a few that stood out.

Brothers & Sisters continued to uphold Greg Berlanti's engaging style of story-telling. Watching this show is like watching a more entertaining version of your family. It's simple but always fun. Picking up where our characters left off, they set up a season of watching Justin struggle with his impending nuptials and med school while Kitty, in a wonderful fake out, finds out that she may be seriously ill.

Cold Case
was riveting as always. Although this show is a procedural, the murder of the week story-lines are always interesting and this season will see Det. Lily Rush struggle to find justice after she was assaulted by an army captain last season. It will be interesting to see Lily, who has a strong moral code, fight her desire to seek revenge.

Dexter and Californiation had weak first outings. I'm hoping that now that they established the major changes for this season (Dexter's fatherhood and attention-loss and Hank's new role as single father and professor) the rest of the season will be more exciting.

The Simpsons, American Dad and Family Guy were all a bit lackluster. I give Family Guy credit for utilizing different forms of animation in their "multiverse" story but both The Simpsons and American Dad seemed to be mostly retread. The parts of The Cleveland Show that I caught seemed a lot funnier but since it's Seth McFarlane's newest venture, I would hope more care would be put into it. I just wonder if McFarlane & Co. aren't stretching themselves too thin with FG, AD and TCS. Even Shonda Rhimes struggled to balance Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy. So did Joss Whedon with Buffy and Angel.

Overall, Sunday alone is enough to drive my DVR insane.

100 Issues for 100 Days: #41

#42: WILFs

I was supposed to make this update last night but clearly I'm a boob. but here's my (very late) Saturday update about WILFs (White Guys I'd Like to F ...). I wouldn't say that I have anything against any race or ethnicity when it comes to men. But when it comes to white guys, there are definitely certain types that I find attractive and everyone else kind of falls to the wayside.

First there's
The Bad Boy, as typified by Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy. There's something about a slightly scraggly guy, bucking conventions and riding a big motorcycle that spells sexy.

Then there's
The Surfer. It's a certain body type, lean yet muscled. A kind of tanned and windswept look as well as a cocky yet relaxed attitude. Probably best illustrated by Paul Walker.

Third is
The Thinker. This guy is all in his head, slightly self-deprecating. He's simple and a bit sensitive but most of all intellectual. I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt fits this description to a tee.

Next in line is
The Brooder. Similar to the bad boy but more lost than bad. He's the Jordan Catalano, sexy mysterious and all you want to do is help him find a way home. Cam Gigandet is deinitely a brooder.

And finally, there's
The Dancer. As a dancer myself, I find most men who can dance sexy but since the stereotype of white men is generally rhythmless, there's something about a white guy who can get down. Robert Hoffman is the best example of this because he's an amazing dancer and choreographer as well as a generally funny guy. A winning combination. As a bonus I thought I'd through in his choreography reel which is just fun to watch.

26 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #40

#40: Welcome to the ...

Last night marked the return of two of my favorite shows NUMB3RS and Dollhouse. While NUMB3RS was a good episode, it was mainly picking up where last season ended. But Dollhouse is setting us up for a far different ride.

With the arrival of Dollhouse on DVD, fans also got an unaired episode, Epitaph One. That episode, set years into the future, showed us where this show is headed and the season premiere started us along that journey.

And though Amy Acker is still being billed as merely a guest star, it's her phenomenal acting as the tortured Dr. Saunders/Whiskey that is really driving the moral dilemmas that these characters are facing. The ethical questions this show asks are what scripted television should strive for.

Given FOX's track record for canceling shows, it's always hard to get into a drama like this because there's always a chance you might not get to the endgame. But take a chance on this show cause the endgame is worth it. And along the way you'll get to see Battlestar Galactica alums, Jamie Bamber and Michael Hogan as well as Angel alum, Alexis Denisof and Summer Glau of Firefly and Terminator fame.

24 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #39

#39: To Be Continued ...

Due to illness and the fact that I have to be at work at 8 am, I'll update about Grey's Anatomy tomorrow.

UPDATED: There are five stages of grief ...

1. Denial
I remember when I first began to question Grey's Anatomy. After Denny died, I wailed and cried but I told myself it was in service of the story and after a story like that one, I would follow Shonda Rhimes and the other writers wherever they would go ... and then they made George cheat on Callie with Izzie. I didn't know what to think but I was still on the ride. I was in denial.

2. Anger
Somewhere along the road I became angry. I was still there but I wasn't happy. And I found myself disliking some of my favorite characters. And then the stories came out. The backstage fighting, the tension and I thought, how can a bunch of people who are producing amazing television let petty fights get in their way? It was unfathomable.

3. Bargaining
I remember thinking at times, I'll still watch if they make Meredith and Derek get back together. Or I'll still watch if they bring Denny back. It became a trade-off. One thing for another, tit for tat.

4. Depression
Then there were the dark times. When I watched but I wasn't happy. When I lamented how the case of the week was the only storyline that brought me any feeling of connection. I felt isolated from characters that once made me feel.

5. Acceptance
And then I watched this season's premiere and I've accepted. I've accepted that this is where we are. That some of those misguided storylines and poorly constructed characters have brought us to this point. The point where I can watch two hours of a show and be completely engaged. The point where I can watch Chandra Wilson, without her saying a word and know what her character is thinking ... and those thoughts made me weep. Every time the camera panned to her face I heard her words from season 3, when George's dad died, "My son is named after his son". More than anyone else Chandra Wilson owned last night's performance and I think she had the fewest lines.

So I'm here at acceptance. And I'm ready to move on ... and stop grieving.

23 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #38

#38: Must-See TV

It looks like Wednesday might be a second night of comedy (which is good because Monday and Wednesdays are shaping up to be some of my most hectic days). Tonight there were no returning shows but I decided to check out ABC's attempts to return to comedy, Modern Family and Cougar Town.

Modern Family is a mockumentary-style sitcom about three inter-related families, May-December newlyweds, a gay couple and your typical nuclear family. This show was hilarious in every way from the odd-couple gays who've just adopted a Vietnamese baby to the "hip" father who's attempts to be cool only further cement how much he's not. There's also some subtly funny moments such as the Jon Gosselin-esque soccer dad who hits on Sofia Vagara's character because he thinks that her husband (played by Ed O'Neill) is her father.

Cougar Town, starring Courtney Cox, is not as funny as Modern Family but it's still a keeper. Although it is riddled with over-40, desperate woman cliches there are some great moments between Cox and her on-screen son (played by Dan Byrd formerly of Aliens in America). Also, Cox's character has a refreshing case of diarrhea of the mouth.

And rounding out my comedy Wednesdays is Glee, which is in its third week and just gets better. This week's tribute to Beyonce's Single Ladies was elegantly paired with Kurt's coming-out to his father. And the over-arching storyline's (Shu's non-pregnant wife, Rachel's struggle to stay on top in a changing glee club and Sue Sylvester's continued attacks on glee) continue to heat up each week. I think comedy is back on prime-time in a big way.

22 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #37

#37: Music & Lyrics

Today's a slow day for returning shows so I thought I'd honor all of my favorite television/music moments. Growing up, music was always a part of television. Theme songs and special guest stars always highlighted the musical moments of the shows but it wasn't until my teens when shows started to use television to launch new and emerging artists in a really significant way. So I just wanted to countdown my top 5 tv/music moments.

#5: Fisher - I Will Love You (Roswell)

I was a huge fan of the Max/Tess pairing on Roswell and their love scene was perfectly punctuated by Fisher's song. The love story of two characters separated by time and death was illustrated by the lyrics "Til my body is dust and my soul is no more/I will love you, love you"

#4: James Taylor - Fire & Rain (Dawson's Creek)

A classic song set to a memorable scene. After Dawson's father dies he all but burns everyone around him and ends up crying alone in his car while James Taylor plays in the background.

#3: The Sundays - Wild Horses (Buffy, The Vampire Slayer)

The best thing about this scene was that it was what every girl dreams of, dancing at her prom with her boyfriend, but it was set off by the knowledge that the moment was fleeting and more than likely the last time Buffy and Angel would be together. Bittersweet.

#2: Melissa McLelland - Rooftop (

Degrassi made a ground-breaking episode about a school shooting and besides the sound of gunshots, Melissa McLelland's song, Rooftop, haunted me or days after the show aired.

Honorable Mention: One Tree Hill
. I have to give this show honorable mention because it consistently has amazing music and has introduced me to tons of artists. I actually could have done this entire list with just selections from this show.

#1: Kate Havnevik - Grace (Grey's Anatomy)

This moment tops the list because it has to do with two of my favorite television couples. In this scene Meredith and Derek succumb to lust and love after a season apart and a hopeful Izzie prepares to see the love of her life Denny Duquette as we watch him die. Beautiful, sensual, sad and life-changing. I don't think I've ever cried so much over a television show.

21 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #36

#36: Are You Ready for Some ...

Tonight I watched the season premieres of The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother and Castle. Although many people think the television sitcom is dead, I have to say that both BBT and HIMYM prove them wrong. Both shows consistently make me laugh out loud and tonight was no exception.

HIMYM has finally brought together my two favorite characters, Barney and Robin, and not only did we get to see them as a couple but we got to watch Lily try to get them to define their relationship (a losing battle with these two commitment-phobes). And what made the episode genius was that in trying not to define what they had, by the end of the episode both characters were completely involved in a relationship without even realizing it. At this point, do we even care who the mother is anymore? I just want more Barney and Robin.

The Big Bang Theory started its third season with Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Wolowitz's return from the Arctic and Penny's apparent lust for Leonard which was stoked by his absence. The wonderful thing about this show is that the geek always gets the girl but it always comes out wrong. Ait the end of the episode we're left with Penny and Leonard tangled in bed and feeling thoroughly awkward, so it should be a great season. As Sheldon would say, in emoticon logic, I'm a semi-colon, upper-case "d".

The season premiere of Castle was every bit the procedural with roguish Nathan Fillion playing his part to perfection. Although I was happy to see the fallout from Castle delving into Beckett's past, what I find the most intriguing about this show is Castle's relationship with his teenage daughter. The chemistry and ease that Fillion has with the actress who plays his daughter is amazing to watch and it's my favorite part of the show.

All in all, I was not disappointed by this first outing from some of my returning faves. And both comedies gave me huge laugh out loud moments, which is a great way to end a Monday.

20 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #35

#35: Glitz and Glamour

Although fall television has been going on for the past few weeks, this week is when some of my perennial favorites, like Grey's Anatomy, premiere. So all this week I'll be blogging about television exclusively (which is a nice respite after my bit of self-indulgence for the past week). And to kick it off, I'll be offering my thoughts on tonight's Primetime Emmys hosted by none other than How I Met Your Mother's Neil Patrick Harris also known as my gay crush. I'll be back later to update my thoughts on the wins and losses but right now, here's my picks for people and shows that need to win:

1. Oustanding Comedy: Honestly, HIMYM deserves this win but since NPH is hosting and also nominated for Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, I think it's more likely that the win will go to 30 Rock and NPH will get the Supporting Actor nod. It's a trade-off I can live with.

2. Lead Actor in a Comedy - Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory: A dark horse, a long shot ... anyway you say it, it's definitely going to be a hard one but if the Emmy voters were smart (which they aren't), they'd award Jim who had an amazing season as Sheldon.

3. Supporting Actor in a Drama - Michael Emerson from Lost: This one is a long time coming. Michael Emerson has been serving up the chills as creepy Ben Linus for seasons but I think this year of watching the manipulative character lose his mojo to Not Locke, showed amazing vulnerability.

4. Supporting Actress in a Comedy - Kristin Chenoweth from Pushing Daisies: Given how Pushing Daisies was unceremoniously dumped from ABC's line-up, this wonderfully crafted show should be thrown a bone but that aside Kristin Chenoweth is one of the best comedic actresses of our time and as much as I love Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Perkins, Jane Krakowski, and Kristen Wiig, I think Kristin C. should be standing on that stage. All 5 feet of her.

That's it for pre-show thoughts. I'll update later with post-show thoughts.

UPDATE: The Emmy Awards were great last night. Here's my thoughts:

The Outfits: I was in love with how subtly glamorous (almost) everyone looked. The few exceptions were Blake Lively and Leighton Meester. Not that they didn't look gorgeous but when most of the women looked like this, it's hard to say that these two were subtle in their choices.

The Jokes, Gags and Special Moments: As always when there's an award show, there's some things you wish they would have scrapped for time but some of my faves were the dance number featuring America's Best Dance Crew's QuestLove and the Dr. Horrible hi-jack scene. I think Neil did an amazing job. The best thing about him is that you can tell he's just giddy and happy to be there. The "In Memoriam" (for me the mark of a great awards show) was tasteful and they did what the Oscars failed to do, actually show the people in the video. I also thought Ricky Gervais did an amazing job presenting but I have a soft spot for him due to this:

The Awards: Kristin Chenoweth won! Jim Parsons didn't (boo!) but Alec Baldwin was a nice compromise. If Charlie Sheen had won, I'd have thrown a rock at the television. Micheal Emerson won! Some surprises were Bryan Cranston's win for Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Breaking Bad). Surprisingly, NPH did not win for Supporting Actor and How I Met Your Mother did not win for Best Comedy Series (robbed!).

Overall, the television community really came out to represent it's own.

100 Issues for 100 Days: #34

#34: Insomniac

I've had a difficult time sleeping the past couple of nights. I'm averaging about five hours of
sleep per night. I go through these sleepless periods about once to twice a year. If I was the therapy type, I could probably tell you what triggers it but for the most part it's just happens.

It's not necessarily bad. I don't feel extra tired. For example, today I went to see the San Francisco Opera simulcast at the SF Giants Ballpark. I ate sandwiches, cheese, olives and other goodies while drinking mimosas and then had an Irish coffee at 21 Amendment before riding the bus home. Although I'm physically tired (I walked a lot more than I was expecting to this evening), I could probably stay up a few more hours. I guess the thing that bugs me is that I'm awake but I'm not doing anything productive. Instead of cleaning my apartment or working on projects, I'm YouTubing (yes, it's a verb when you do it recreationally and/or without purpose) or texting The Ex-Boy, who seems to be texting me pretty often since my last birthday. In other words, it's not the lack of sleep that I mind but the lack of productivity.

18 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #33

#34: How Many of Us Have Them?

Today I went to a skate-a-thon at Dry Ice roller rink. It was my first attempt to make some friends outside of work. I think it was a rousing success. I enjoyed myself, had some well-priced (read: cheap) beer and met some good people.

I think the older you get the harder it is to make friends. By the time you're 20 or so, you've pretty established the group of people to support you for the rest of your life. You might meet people through work or other friends but for the most part, you've created a core group of people. Since I'm so far away from the core I've formed, I'm trying to find new people and although I enjoy my co-workers, I really need to soialize with more people. I hope I'm taking a few steps in the right direction.

17 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #32

#32: Love Jones

Since I've been reminiscing all week I would be remiss not to mention Love Jones. Love Jones is one of those movies that I think defined what "love" is supposed to look like for people, as evidenced by the amounts of "Love Jones" blogs I found when searching for this picture.

For me, just the words evoke a certain feeling. It reminds me of the feeling of laying on the couch and reading a good book on a rainy Sunday. Or listening to jazz while laying in bed. Or a hot, restless night (like tonight) when you feel lazy and energized all at once.

But most of all Love Jones taught me what NOT to do in a relationship. It's one of those frustrations that make great love stories, the characters do
everything wrong. While I learned not to play games and not to hold back when it counts, would the story have seemed so great if they didn't have to suffer a bit to get there?

I've been rewatching old clips of General Hospital and in particular, my favorite couple Jason and Sam. There's something cathartic about watching couples get together, get torn apart and reunite. Even if that love ends tragically and the reunion is something you only imagine. Ultimately, when you think of a love story, you don't remember the tragedy, you remember the warm nights, the laughs and the kisses. And that's why the stories endure.

16 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #31

#31: Bright Days, Stupid Nights

Bright Days, Stupid Nights
was one of my favorite books when I was young. The story is about four young people working at a small-town newspaper during the summer. At the time, I identified with the character Vicki, the hard-working prodigy who tried hard to prove herself while being caught up in the "romance" she hoped would happen. Pretty much me to a tee. But I never quite understood the title ... until now.

Lately, I've been having a lot of bright days and stupid nights. One thing that I'm constantly afraid of is the "teacher rut". We're only three weeks out so I still have hope but right now it's lots of going to school, dealing with the September heat and coming home to dinner. And an exciting change is a school event like Back-to-School night. The scariest thing is when work drama becomes a big part of your life. It's like high school again when the intensity of every moment makes you feel like it is the MOST IMPORTANT THING.

So I'm trying to keep my life balanced. I want bright days and fun nights.

15 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #30

#30: Playing Dress Up

Fall is always a fun time because it's a time to reinvent yourself. I've been thinking about how to update my look especially since I'm financially challenged and also since what I do restricts a lot of what I want to wear.

I love maxi dresses and because summer in Northern California doesn't really kick up until around September and October, this is the time when I can really wear them. Unfortunately, many of my maxi dresses are low cut, so I have to pair them with tanks. And to make them work ready, I'm also adding heels rather than sandals, which means changing shoes since I have recess duty during the day.

This is another look I like. It's simple and casual yet dressed up. I have some similar pieces in my wardrobe already and I can easily adapt this to my own style.

There's another similar look, with skinny jeans and blousy tops that I like. I've spent the entire summer looking for perfectly slouchy tees and acquired a few that would complete the look.

I love wearing heels but it becomes harder sine I spend most of my time running around our much larger school. But I've committed myself to at least two fashion-y outfits a week. I think it's important to go outside of the box especially since the teacher uniform (button down, slacks, comfy shoes and sweater) is not my idea of fun fashion.

There's also a few pieces I'm looking to get altered. One is a structured jacket that ties at the neck. I would like to replace it with a large button. The other is a dress with an attached belt, I'd like to get removed. Eventually, I'd like to splurge on a pair of over the knee boots. Those definitely won't be or work :)

14 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #29

#29: Monday Night Round-Up

Eating: Marinated bean salad over garlic & cilantro couscous.

Greek, Gossip Girl and Lincoln Heights.

Hoping: That the loan I took out clears in the next few days so I can pay my (overdue) rent.

YouTubing: Sailor Moon and General Hospital's Jason and Sam.

Mourning: Patrick Swayze, who died today of pancreatic cancer. I was midway through tonight's entry when I heard about it. Although I'll admit to spending many a Saturday memorizing the steps from Dirty Dancing, it's his impeccable performance from To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Numar that made me fall in love with Patrick Swayze all over again. He took a part that could have been over the top and ridiculous and injected a strong sense of a man who struggled with his sexual identity and finding acceptance. And throughout the entire film he showed the class and elegance of a woman. I'd heard for a while about his struggle with cancer so this was not completely out of the blue but the last I'd heard Swayze was on the mend and I'd hoped that he would be with us for many years to come. I'm sure wherever he is he is dancing. Rest in peace.

Edited to add: Just found out that Jim Carroll died on Friday. I feel like pieces of my childhood are dying every day.

13 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #28

#28: Fiddler on the Roof

Today has been a weird day. For the past few weeks, I've been very much inside of my head. I find myself fixating on phrases.

Earlier, I watched Lions for Lambs and a quote stuck in my mind.
Nowhere have I seen such Lions led by such Lambs.
I wonder if we're all Lions being led by Lambs or if we're just a bunch of sheep.

Right now our financial system is collapsing and our government and citizens seem to be showing a lack of courage. Personally, it seems to be manifesting in my life with a severe shortage of money and a fear of the future that I haven't felt before and yet, I spent my day watching movies and television shows. I wonder if I'm not fiddling while Rome is burning all around me. And if I am, what do I do to stop it?

100 Issues for 100 Days: #27

#27: On the Cusp

Technically, it's Sunday but since I'm just getting home it's still Saturday for me. Today I went to Power to the Peaceful which is essentially a a hippie, love-in in the center of Golden Gate park. Recently, I've realized that I need to expand my social circle. The majority of the people I know in California are either people I knew before moving here or people that I know through work. As a result, all the people I know are students, teachers, artists and activists. Not exactly a bad group of friends to have but for the most part there's not a lot fo diversity amongst them.

By default, this means the men I've dated since moving have been students, teachers, artists and activists. Kind of a pattern. So I've been trying to go to events that I wouldn't usually decide to go to myself. I'm trying to engage people outside of work and school friends. Power to the Peaceful was a cool event because it definitely took me a bit out of my comfort zone. This Friday, I'm going to go to the B.A.D. Girls Roller Derby event. And on Saturday I might check out an improv show. I've realized that if I'm going to stay in the Bay Area, I need to create a group of friends that is separate from work and past friends. I'm on the cusp of making that happen.

12 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #26

#26: What Have They Got That I Ain't Got?

I didn't update last night partly because I was in bed by 8 and partly because 9/11 is always a difficult day for me. Being on the West Coast for 9/11 is a mind-trip. And being a teacher of middle to high school students who were born and raised on the West Coast is basically a mindfuck.

For the most part, children are out of touch with the impact of that day. But this is the only place where I've consistently encountered children who
laugh and treat that day as a joke. To top it all off, my advising group is currently discussing "courage", which is one of our school's guiding principles. The topics essentially go hand in hand but for students who don't see that event (or most events that don't affect them personally) as important, it's hard to get them to understand the sacrifices that people make.

On a personal level, discussing courage with my students makes me wonder, why should they know what courage is when they never see it displayed? We talked about what courage looks like an what it sounds like and a lot of them talked about jumping in front of bullets and saving lives but what about the student that says it's not okay when they see someone making fun of another? Or the shop owner who stays in a dangerous neighborhood rather than abandon it?

We also talked about moral courage vs. physical courage. In the article I provided for discussion, the author referenced voting Obama into office as an example of Americans showing moral courage. My question is, what have we done since then? Now that he's there how are we supporting him because right now it seems like all we hear are the people who didn't vote for him. I'm not saying that I'm perfect because I've definitely missed out on opportunities to go to town halls and show my support but I have written to senators and representatives. Below is a clip from Real Time with Bill Maher where he talks about the lack of courage the Obama administration and the people who voted for him are showing. We have the majority and we need to exercise it. I feel strongly that the moment we show that we are not ready to back down the other side will because right now they're just blowing lots of hot air.

10 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #25

#25: This Used to be My Playground

Tonight was the premiere of the CW's The Vampire Diaries. As I said before, the book series that this show is based on shaped a good part of my childhood. I've always been a lover of vampire stories. I read many of Anne Rice's books when I was 11 and 12 and I still love her writing. But one day I stumbled across L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries and I was hooked.

In all honesty, all of the author's stories follow the same general arc. There is a female protagonist (in this case Elena Gilbert) and she is caught in between two guys. In VD, it's initially Matt, the sweet jock, and Stefan, the dangerous but good vampire. As Elena becomes more entrenched in Stefan's world, she becomes caught between Stefan and his brother, Damon, who is a far more dangerous vampire. Eventually, Elena becomes a vampire due to her dalliances with both brothers.

What makes the book series so intriguing is the devotion that Elena has to her friends and ultimately her town and that against all odds, it's not about her choosing between these two brothers but instead about how much she is willing to sacrifice to keep her town safe from the evil these two brothers unintentionally bring.

The show, while drawing on some of the larger elements of the original (vampire brothers fighting for Elena's love, Damon's ability to turn into a crow, Stefan's disgust of his brother and determination to act human) so far misses out on some crucial details. The CW's Elena has a younger sibling in the form of a cute, drug-addicted brother. Perfect fodder for the CW crowd but the book's Elena has a little sister named Margaret, whose pet kitten plays an important role later in the story. In the novel, Stefan and Damon originate from Venice during the Italian Renaissance era. In the show, they are part of the original founders of the Virginian town the story is set in, though they still retain the obviously Italian name, Salvatore. And it's a small note but the name of the town in the book is Fell's Church while in the show has changed it to Mystic Falls. Minor but since one of the major characters that comes into play is named Honoria Fell, I guess that part of the story will be scrapped. Also some of Elena's friends have been sacrificed so far (Meredith) while other minor characters have been played up (Vicki).

There are some changes I'm happy with. The character of Bonnie is now a Black female, which is a welcome change. It's nice to have more characters of color in my favorite story.

But the question I ask myself whenever a remake or adaption like this happens, is why does this affect me so much? Why do these changes affect the sanctity that I've created around my favorite stories? Part of it is fear that this will be the only way one of my favorite stories will be remembered. There is a permanence about film and television that can supersede literature. There's very few people that can argue that the name Harry Potter doesn't conjure an image of Daniel Radcliffe. Right now, I've convinced one of my students (who reminds me a lot of myself) to read the series. And with all the Twi-hards out there thinking this is some sort of rip-off of their universe when the Vampire Diaries actually existed more than a decade before Twilight was published, it's hard not to be defensive and hope that if theyre going to create that permanence they get it right.

The second part of it is that when you read (and re-read) books the way I do, you create a world, a set of images that resonate with you forever. Because I enjoy Nina Dobrev as an actor, I'm not up in arms about the fact that she looks nothing like how Elena is described in the story but in truth, she looks
NOTHING like Elena. As the heroine of the story, it's a bit hard to swallow.

I've given the show a chance and though it's not terrible, it's not
my Vampire Diaries. And as the fall schedule begins to get crowded they're going to have to give me more than a good soundtrack to keep me tuning in. As it is, I just have the urge to pull out my books and read them every week. It would be a far better use of my hour.

09 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #24

#24: Sideways

I recently discovered (and kicked myself in the head for missing) Kevin Smith's podcast with Scott Moisier, the aptly titled SModCast. For the most part, I like to listen to podcasts that discuss television shows but the SModCast is essentially just two guys shooting the shit and I must admit, I'd probably pay the few measly sheckles that I have to listen to these two guys.

It's fairly explicit language but it's highly entertaining. So much so that I find myself laughing out loud on the bus to and from work. The topics range from censorship to Canadian hockey icons and it's all done with Kevin Smith's trademark style of self-deprecation and forthrightness.

I went back to listen to the episode in which the two producers talked about the resistance they got around the ads for Zack and Miri Make a Porno. The entire episode basically devolved into a conversation about how parents need to deal with the changing world and take responsibility for what their children will see and how they explain it to them. This is an issue where I've noticed you seem to have two extreme opposites. On one end you have the parents who police everything their child sees, from television to books to what's in their neighborhood. And on the other hand you have parents who take their 5 year-old's to R-rated movies, curse in front of their children and basically let them watch or read whatever they want. In my opinion, in both situations, no one wins. The former creates a completely sheltered child who can't navigate he world or in an attempt to navigate the world, rebels. The latter is the kid who grows up far too fast, and in this country where children are hyper-sexualized and violent, a child doesn't need their parents to initiate the beginning of that process.

So what's the solution? From what I've observed it's all about talking to your children and giving them boundaries. In the podcast, Smith noted that the objection people had about the ad was the use of the word "porno". They were afraid that their kids would ask them what it meant. If I was a parent, I'd much rather my child ask me what a porno is than learn the answer somewhere else. And if you've set proper boundaries as a parent, a simple "It's an adult movie and it's not for children" will suffice. Yes, children are inquisitive but for the most part, they understand when something is not for them. Why are parents so afraid of what their children will ask them? There's always that moment of awkwardness but in the long-run, isn't it better coming from you? I know this is a bit easy for me to say since I'm childless but I welcome having those discussions with my (future) child. At least then I can say all the shit I have to keep to myself when talking to my students.

08 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #23

#23: You Must Know ...

Amelia Earhart has always been an uninspiring figure for me. She's never really rated on any scale for me as an icon or a feminist, but today on Jezebel there was an interesting article about her in which they quoted a letter she gave to her husband on their wedding day:

You must know again my reluctance to marry, my feeling that I shatter thereby chances in work which means so much to me. . . . In our life together I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me, nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly. . . . I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all the confinements of even an attractive cage. I must extract a cruel promise, and that is you will let me go in a year if we find no happiness together.*
(*emphasis mine)

In the past few days, I've had two friends get engaged, and even more in the past few months. It made me wonder, what parts of myself am I willing (or unwilling) to give up in a marriage? What would my letter look like? I think it would be something like this:

You must know again my reluctance to marry. I've seen this end in spite and sorrow. And I've seen it tear down the self-esteem of everyone involved. In our life together, I hope that you can be honest, because I value that above all other virtues. I consider myself bound to you but if breaking bonds helps us both to live than do not hesitate to cut the cord. I am not your cage and you are not mine. I may have to keep some things for myself to be myself but everything else I wish to share. I must extract a promise and that is that you will let me go when holding on becomes too much. If we end, I hope to end in love.
Although I don't count Earhart as one of my personal heroes, I have a lot of respect for her entering a marriage with a clear vision and a clear intention of what she wanted and didn't want. Too often women are caught up in the dream rather than the reality beyond the wedding. I hope when I get married, I'm not planning for a day but instead for a lifetime.

07 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #22

#22: On the Eve of this Momentous Event ...

Fall used to be about new clothes, new books and falling leaves. Since moving to California, I've had less money (so no new clothes), there's barely any leaves falling off the trees and since I'm a teacher rather than a student, no new books. But one thing has always remained the same, FALL TELEVISION! Here's what I'm excited for and some things which are going to fall to the wayside.

The CW: Once again, the CW gets points for starting it's new season a week before the other networks. Given that it's slew of new shows is largely derivative and unoriginal, they need the headstart. I'll definitely be tuning into Gossip Girl (Mondays at 9 pm) to see where college brings our cast, and I'm optimistic since creator Josh Schwartz actually anticipated his characters going to college, something most teen shows seem to forget. That being said, other than the draw of the sexy Winchester boys, the CW has pretty much lost me as a viewer. I'm not fired up about the 90210 and Melrose Place reboots and One Tree Hill is pretty lackluster

Next up is FOX: The FOX network is my nemesis. They manage to take the risks that other networks don't by greenlighting interesting shows but they quickly cancel them if they are not break out hits (moment of silence for
even though they've dropped the deadweight of Peyton and Lucas.Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles). So I'll be tuning in to the new show Glee (this Wednesday at 9 pm) and going for old favorites like the Sunday night cartoon block (Simpsons, Family Guy) also Fringe and Bones which are back-to-back on Thursdays. I'll be watching House on a trial basis. At the end of the month on the 25th Joss Whedon's Dollhouse reappears to round out my Friday nights.

CBS returns September 14th with
How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory (8 pm and 9 pm, respectively). Then two weeks later The Amazing Race and Cold Case premiere.

Finally, ABC returns with new episodes the week of the 21st, with new episodes of Castlea book tie-in). I'll be checking out the new comedy
(which also has Modern Family (Wednesdays at 9) which is chock full of stars like Ed O'Neill and Sofia Vergara. Also the J.J. Abrams-helmed Flash Forward will begin right before new episodes of Grey's Anatomy. And then that Sunday Brothers & Sisters returns at 10 pm.

In addition to the return of network television, there's plenty of cable television returning in the
fall. On September 14th, Lincoln Heights returns to ABCFamily and Greek is two episodes into a new season. Sons of Anarchy, a show I fell in love with over this weekend, has its second season premiere tomorrow on FX. Also, Showtime premieres new seasons of Dexter and Californication on the 27th. Californication is planning a huge season three with Hank Moody now ensconced in a new position as a college professor and there are plans for Kathleen Turner, Ed Westwick, Eva Amurri, Embeth Davidtz and Diane Farr (who I love from Roswell and Numb3rs) to guest star.

Other than that, everything is either being ignored or watched on a trial basis. I think I've reached a point where I have enough returning shows and a couple of new shows that I am interested in to fill up my tv schedule. I will try to watch Vampire Diaries since I am a fan of the books that inspired the show but from the previews I've seen there's been a massive Twilight-ization of the novels. And the month of October will see the return of 30 Rock, Ugly Betty (also on probation) and Private Practice, which has a crazy finale to live up to.

06 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #21

#21: Flossy, Flossy

This morning I woke up and the first thing I saw when I turned on the television was a documentary called Youth Knows No Pain. It's a documentary made by the daughter of a plastic surgeon as she ponders the multi-billion dollar anti-aging industry which includes, injectables, creams and full-on surgery.

Although I found the documentary pretty well-rounded and it featured lots of different points of view, one thing was definitely visually apparent, even though it was unspoken: this is a White person's problem. In the entire time I watched only three of the people I saw were of color, one Black woman, one Asian male and one Latina. Now this doesn't mean I believe only White people worry about aging but there's clearly some color and class hierarchy driving this industry.

Now I could go to that old stand-by "Black don't crack" but I think essentially, cosmetics are expensive. Cosmetic surgery, even the injectables, is pretty cost prohibitive. The average price for Botox is $350-$500 per area. Even with "recession specials", cosmetic surgery is hard for the average American to afford without foregoing some other aspect of their lives. In a 2008 survey by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, they found that wile White Americans comprise 67% of the population, they account for 78% of plastic surgeries. Blacks are 13% of the population and 6% of plastic surgery patients. And the industry projected figures to drop due to the recession.

One important aspect the documentary did bring up was the fact that because health insurance is linked to our jobs, people feel the need to keep themselves looking young and vital in order to preserve their jobs and by-proxy, their health insurance. I wonder if some people of color don't worry about Botox since they are more likely to not have health insurance?

Essentially, that's what the film seemed to come down to for me. Cosmetic surgery is something you do if you have the time to worry about what you look like. And you would have the time to do that if you didn't have to worry about school loans, job security or where your next meal was coming from.

Ironically, the woman who made the documentary was the daughter of a famoous plastic surgeon who always told her she was beautiful. And although she never tried anything other than creams until she made this film, she was pretty obsessed with aging. I wonder if as a culture we've come to a point where we need something, anything to focus on and when the things around us fall into place we turn that obsessive need inward. Will my life fall into place one day and suddenly I'll find myself searching for Botox injection?

05 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #20

#20: The Hangover

Apparently cleansing my system means that my body is not ready to handle hard liquor. Last night, I went out for my friends birthday and despite the fact that I only drank three (admittedly strong) drinks, I spent the day pretty out of it.

I tend to be a good drinker which means that hangovers are not de rigeur for me but if this is how my body's going to react to hard liquor, I will definitely be taking it down a notch for a long while. I don't want wake up with a strange baby and a tiger next to me. But this post does give me an excuse to post this video:

04 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #19

#19: Whatever You Like

Short update as I am on my way to a friend's birthday to do but just thought I'd present a situation I am currently in:

I met a guy on my flight back from NY. He's nice but not in anyway will he ever be my type. He has been texting and hinting that he would pay for me to come back to NY. Should I:

A. Be impressed in manner of video vixen?

B. Be offended because clearly this guy thinks I'm a ho?

C. Just take a free trip back home and deal with the rest later?

Let me know what you think.

03 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days: #18

#18: Flashback

I just finished reading, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason*. After hearing about the possibility that a third film was in the works, some people had suggested reading the second book, which is apparently far better than the film. While I agree that the book is superior, reading it as a woman in her mid-twenties definitely brought a new perspective.

(If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs ...)

Although the Bridget-isms were charming (though a bit dated as it was pubished in 1999) and I do love a British chick-lit novel, Bridget's raging insecurities were hard to deal with. The conceit of the novel is that Bridget is addicted to self-help novels and friends' advice, so much so that she is completely immobilized by it. Because everything that she reads and hears is contradicted by what she should actually be doing, she never gains any traction in her relationship. At one point, she goes to throw out her self-help books and even the listing of the titles (The Rules, Ignoring the Rules, How to Seek and Find the Love You Want, How to Find the Love You Want Without Seeking It) illustrate just how bogged down her logic is.

(If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, But make allowance for their doubting too)

As the reader, you're hoping that Bridget's insights about "Singletons" and "Smug Marrieds" will lead her to some epiphany about life and love but sadly the heroine of this novel finds herself continually bogged down in wondering what her would-be lover is thinking rather than speaking to him. Funny enough, Bridget's mom, who is daft for the majority of the story, in one lucid moment says the most wise of things, "What's the point ... if you don't know what you think about things?"

(If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken)

Although I personally can't relate to Bridget (I can't relate to any literary character who basically works their way into debt and magically finds a wonderfully rich man), reading this book did give me a lot of understanding into where I am now. First of all, I am not living in a chick-lit novel. If I was the aforementioned wonderfully rich guy would be making his entrance about now. Luckily, I am also not surrounded by Smug Marrieds. I am a Singleton but not searching for spirituality in self-help novels in manner of "If Buddha Dated". What I am is somewhat content, usually horny (but who isn't in this heat?) and continuing to figure out my career. And I'll admit, I'm hoping I won't be still typing those words ten years from now.

(If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim)

The best thing about reading this book (beside it making me wildly happy about my own level o self-esteem) was the discovery of the poem If by Rudyard Kipling. I don't think Bridget fully understands the gem she's come upon when she reads this poem but she does use it to draw strength from while she's in a Thai prison. And I'll definitely hold the words with me.

(If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two imposters just the same)

*I'm currently reading books that have been turned into films. Atonement, Incendiary and Wonder Boys are on the list).

02 September 2009

100 Issue for 100 Days: #17

#17: Jacob I Have Loved

Television and literature have always been locked in a competition for my affection. Both can easily tap into my emotions so much so that I've been known to full-on sob on the bus over Dumbledore's death and also wake up out of a dead sleep in tears because Denny Duquette suffered a heart attack. But there's very few times when these two passions collide. Luckily, I've found one place where they always do and it's Television Without Pity. In particular, one writer has managed to take the simple television recap to the height of literary critique and that's Jacob.

He is who I aspire to be. Every time I watch an episode of Weeds or Gossip Girl I can't wait until I can read his recaps because I know they will take the analysis of the episode to a level that will inevitably make me love the episode even more. After watching the season finale of Weeds, I went to TWoP to discover that Jacob had titled his recaplet "The Brief and Wonderous Life of Pilar Zuzuao", a play on the Junot Diaz novel The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. Where else can I get my geek fix so easily?

Beyond clever wordplay and literary references, reading a Jacob recap is like eating thinly sliced himachi tuna with honeydew melon and sea salt on a summer day. That is to say: sublime. When discussing True Blood, where else can I find insight like:
But you don't go home. You go to a new place every time. While she was away, the world became wild. The old safe places became not so safe; the old hiding places were touched with madness. The uncanny began to invade; the uncanny was invited in. She reached out and touched his fangs, and offered him her throat ....Welcome in, it says on the left, and FUCK OFF, it says on the right: You don't go home, and welcome home.
That is the beauty of his writing. It's haunting and keen in a way that makes you feel like you've just watched something completely different and MISSED THE ENTIRE POINT. His recaps for half-hour shows are at least 12 pages long and the hour-long dramas (if it's a great episode) can run from 20-36! I've happily downloaded songs, rented films, run internet searches and broke open a dictionary because of a recap.

Reading this today inspired me to write this post:

And so in the finale, of all places, we're finally being told outright what we could have been watching all this time: Pilar is the U-Turn that Nancy couldn't overlook, because she is a woman. She uses all the tools Nancy has and lots of tools Nancy doesn't have, and has been creeping unseen into every aspect of Nancy's life until she's not sure who the Boss really is. .... Pilar exists as a powerful woman, then, to deconstruct and transcend the Nancy/Men and Men/Boys binaries that Nancy's been operating on (in Jungian terms, she's the tertium non datur, the irrational symbol that transcends the signified opposites, allowing Nancy to bring the possibility of a new path up into consciousness)*. And that would have been a great story, and it's the story we're being told we got, but it's not actually the story we got.
*Emphasis mine.

After reading this (and looking up the term: tertium non datur), I realized I was left with two choices: acknowledge this amazing writer or not. And I chose the former.
The first time I reveled in the genius that I was reading was during a Gossip Girl recap titled "When U Were a Fever". I followed the winding prose that built like the fever described in the episode until I landed at the end:
How bad does it get, in the dark places? And just before the music goes crazy and the fever returns, and the camera away from the two of them every fourth beat, back and up the staircase, before everybody watching goes: "The fuck!?" and starts screaming, Serena says: "I killed someone."
That was exactly how I felt watching the episode. The building of suspense until you're on the edge of your seat wondering what the FUCK has been going on and then that moment of reveal right before the credits just like the weekly "thud" that ends every episode of Lost. But the awe-inspiring realization is that all of that was recaptured in someone's analysis of the episode. You don't have to watch it again because it's all astutely laid out for you in the place you were least expecting. And that is what I love.

01 September 2009

100 Issues for 100 Days :#16

#16: It's Just One of Dem Days*

Today has been one of those days that ran fairly smoothly but ended on a bad note. So when I have a day like this there's a few things that make me smile:

1. The Carlton:

This is what reruns are made for people. To make you smile when you least expect it.

2. Jesse Spano Freaks Out

Whenever I feel stressed out, I think ... at least I'm not Jesse

3. Center Stage

Cheesiest thing ever. How can you not love her 4 outfit (and make-up!) changes with no intermission?

4. Cry for You

When a young Ryan Gosling hits that high note, how can you not love it? Don't forget the shoulder lean, "Baby I'm beggin' !"

5. Like You

This link gave me and my college roommate hours of procrastinating fun. And it's only a 30 second video.

Sometimes the interwebs really come through.

*Bonus in honor of the post title: